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Monday, September 15, 2014

"Round Round, Get Around, I Get Around!"

"Yeah, get around round round-- I get around!"

"From town to town!"

"Get around round round I get get around!  I get around!"

"I'm a real cool head! I'm making lots of bread!"


"I'm getting bugged driving up and down the same old strip."

-----"I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip!  I get around!"

We think this is sugar cane.  They peel off the outer layer with a large knife and then put it through that machine in the middle, and then (as evidenced by the cup stack) drink it!

Car seat!  For Season.  Who says Baby #3 necessitates a new car?

 A shoutout to my favorite dog who had to stay in the U.S. even though this could totally have been a genealogy mission for him!  Incidentally, shih tzus are basically unheard of here.  Mugsy would not only have had to explain WHO he was, he would have had to produce copious paperwork authenticating his roots as to WHAT he was!  Furthermore, he'd have probably had to relinquish some blood  to complete strangers, pee in a cup (a trick on three legs,,,), AND bear things!!!  Shudder....

 "I get around, yeah WOOOOOOOO!"
"My buddies and me are getting real well known.  Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone!  I get around!" 

"Wah wa ooo.  Wah wa ooo.  Wah wa ooh.  Wah wa oo.  Wah wa ooo. Wah wa ooo.  Ah...."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Out and About

This was my first introduction to the library on our  campus.  It spoke volumes to me!  pun.
The real view from where we stood.  Is this beautiful?????  (psst...dirty little was raining, and there were drip buckets all over just outside the range of my camera.  I'll bet someone is ticked.  Three year old building????  Sound familiar, Bear Lake??)

Chairman Mao welcomes us to Chengdu!  This picture makes him look short.  We were waaaaaaay across the street!
I bought this at our corner street market.  Silly me.  I thought I could just peel it and call it a cucumber.  Au contraire!  This (I learned) is bitter melon--you have to cook it!!  And even Chinese only choke it down because it is brimming with superhuman nutrition. 
This one sat sneering on the cupboard for a few days as I wondered if I could stomach that much nutrition.  It darkened a little, and we parted company.
Clyde working on his guanshi (rough translation:  working the crowd, goodwill) with the local kidlets.
Welcome to the Global Center--the largest building in the world!
Eat, shop, shop, shop, ice skate, swim, slide, watch movies, surf, jump waves, shop, eat, buy groceries, stay overnight or for a week, get free 1 year anniversary cake, people watch, enjoy Texas bar-b-q, walk across a clear walkway and look down 5 stories, and cross it off your lifelist!  At no extra cost, I witnessed a mother holding her baby over a trash can to do his business.  Yes, I did.
Take your breath away glitz!  Square MILES of marble floors!
We didn't, but we WILL!! 

And you can get Tupperware...without all the stupid party games!

Move over, Mr. Disney!!  The thing of it is, is that I've been getting up and going about my duties for 61 years and had no CLUE all of THIS was going on over here on this side of the clue.

Worth a Thousand Words...

You may extrapolate that a problem exists with people standing on the toilets.
I hasten to add that this sign showed up in the restroom of one of the highest end malls I've ever been in.

A river just a few steps from where we live.  We cross it multiple times a day.  Last Sunday evening I followed it for about 30 minutes and ended up within sight of...wait for it...keep with me...WalMart.

Wengshu Monastery.  I'm sure much like one does with the cathedrals of Europe, we will become monastery savvy whilst here.

During our visit we witnessed probably 500 Buddhists in the main temple there in the background wending their way inside chanting a catchy refrain which I adopted, "This is not Ida--ho-OH; This is not Ida-ho."  Repeat until all participants are kneeling in their appointed rows.

Beautiful modern Chengdu.  Architectural eye candy.

Meanwhile,  back in the projects, this is the untouched mudprint left on the wall of our laundry where a thief--perhaps thieves, paid us a night visit on Day 2.

Anne and Clyde Criddle of Houston, TX--fellow BYU China Teachers--our next door neighbors and city explorers extraordinaire!

This is a tiger paw.  For sale.  Complete with Body Works type sinews and dye-enhanced fur.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Being Processed

One of the disconcerting things about navigating in a foreign country is that you relinquish a certain amount of control in your life to forces and circumstances beyond your control. You don't speak the language, so you can't read the signs to save yourself from much of anything. Let me describe.  Our second full day here we were told by those in charge of our welfare that we must have a physical.  Yet another physical--bearing in mind that we shelled out nearly $1,000 for two physicals in the U.S. having every sort of s.t.d. blood test imaginable.  A van and driver showed up at the appointed time and along with our apartment building manager off we were whisked.  Lambs to the slaughter.  No debate.  No explanations. We wove our way through the city to a large stark building, and that is where the fun began.  We were all issued a card, handed over passports, filled out papers, paid our fee, and then herded off to various stations along with dozens more where we were prodded, poked, pricked, perused generally, and got our cards stamped as we shuffled compliantly along.  No one spoke to us.  All faces were very solemn.  This adventure took us to multiple floors and involved a retinue of attendants--all solemnly about their task. We were told to lie on tables, remove and bare things, pee in cups (straddled over a trough-like slit/"toilet"), stick our arms through windows where blood was drawn, and line ourselves up in front of x-ray screens.  The whole thing made me nervous.  A little too much China a little too soon.  I'm modest by nature.  I don't BARE things well under the best of circumstances!  The whole ordeal had a decided Ellis Island feel.  What if I don't pass??????????  What if my pee isn't up to standards??????  What if that eye test REALLY does matter? (You should have heard my explanation about only having one contact.)  What if they saw, heard, or felt something on or in me I am completely unaware of????  What if What if???  I guess we'll wait for the results.  Perhaps some morning we'll hear a heavy knock on the door and one of us will be drug away with no explanation...deported...detained.  I dunno.  So, I was recounting this experience to our branch president on Sunday.  At least he brought some humor to the experience when he said that during his wife's initial exam at the same facility, the x-ray technician could not identify and did NOT know what to do about the port above  her clavicle being used for on-going cancer treatment.  After multiple doctors and technicians were summoned and duly baffled, someone finally wrote down on her report "caesarian section scar."  And on we go. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

In a Galaxy Far Far Away...

This may or may not work. To say that we've been technology challenged is putting it mildly.  I've taken a bit of a blog holiday, and for that I am truly penitent.  Methinks a psychoanalyst might find a look into my brain at least noteworthy over the last 4 or 5 months.  But let us press on!!  China.  What a ride!!  "What cannot be described must be experienced."  Amen, brother.  We are in Chengdu, China--capital of the Sichuan province--home of the country's most populated panda preserve AND largest building in the world.  Think NYC quadrupled and given multiple more dozens of square miles to lap over into.  Picture a huge bowl full of 14 million people in the foothills of the Himalayas.  I'll have to picture along with you because those mountains have yet to be seen--probably too far away or maybe too "misted"--a euphemism for polluted.  We've seen the sun a little but no blue sky.  And while you're at it, conjure up an image of creative traffic patterns peppered with a patrillion scooters and bikes.  We live in a somewhat quiet gated complex near our university's old campus.  Our apartment is rather large and comfortable, but the kitchen is straight out of a nursery school play corner!  Easy bake oven and all!  No shelves or cupboards in there.  I think we'll try and do some cooking when the dust settles here and we can think along those lines.  Until then we eat traditional foods in our neighborhood.  Whoa howdy...another post or two or three for that down the road.  Our teaching assignments take place on the campus of the new (5 years old) campus 40 minutes on a bus away from our digs.  IT IS UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL.  TRULY.  Jerry is off teaching his first class as I write this.  I dive in tomorrow.  I will be teaching a class of PhD students and 3 other sections of sophomores who are getting joint degrees from the University of Glasgow.  Professors come several times a month from Scotland to share that with us.  We have been quite bold to venture out--both walking, in taxis, and on the metro.  Other than the robbery the third night here and the annoying amount of stress incident to landing in a foreign country AND the red tape, we are swell.  It is very very very interesting.  You all need to come and see it firsthand!  I particularly enjoy smiling at all the grandparents with the grandbabies.  I'll send pictures. I need to blog about the amazing temple, church, the other teachers, and my humidity-induced frizzy hair.  Oh, and the down time!!!!!  I've read 6 books!  I know!!  Lastly, could you please send any and all recipes that call for chicken feet.  Seriously.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Turn Right At the Confederate Flag!"

I went "grave robbing" at the local cemetery today--retrieving mums to replant in my garden, actually, but I had you going, didn't I.  Someone had hooked up a hose to the faucet and had left the water running on the grass around a gravestone, so I borrowed the hose and watered a few drooping mums on the graves in the neighborhood of my parents' headstones.  Next to my parents' grave is a Confederate flag which adorns the grave of "a true southern bell".  I gave that old gal's flowers a good long dose. It was a grim stroll down memory lane.  A enighboring grave was of a classmate of mine from high school who unfortunately took his own life.  I watered around his headstone and gave the flowers a drink.  Then I pulled the hose over to the parents' of my good friend, Glay.  I washed off a little bit of bird poop and then turned another direction pausing at the graves of my P.E. teacher, Mrs. Rich, and high school librarian, Mr. Wilde.  That grave was just fresh because his wife died last winter and grass hasn't grown yet.  Over that way was the headstone of a former student--yet another suicide.  Too young to die.  There was the marker for the town florist I remember as a kid.  Up that way was the grave of a daughter of my sister's best friend in high school.  I remember that funeral--she was a young BYU student who fell asleep at the wheel returning home to CA one summer.  As I headed down the hill ("Wow, Madd!!.  You haven't even had a second to blog in goodness knows how long, and here you are wandering aimlessly among the dead...unexpected time on your hands???"), I noticed a marker with the names (no death date) of an elderly couple  I would greet by name when I pumped gas in about 20 minutes!  I'll bet all their drawers are orderly too!  I passed the marker of my neighbor Helen who died unexpectedly two winters ago. A friend and former English teacher I taught with (and whose daughter took my place when I left 7th grade a year ago) has a Henry David Thoreau quote on her tombstone--the one about leaving your castles in the air where they belong and building steps up to it. Lots of pictures of temples etched in stone.  Trout.  Elk. Lots of pine trees etched in--some with cabins in the foreground. Even a motorcycle appeared to grace a final resting place.  I can't imagine what I'd want on mine.   Quiet up there today.  I've visited this place many times.  It used to be a close walk when I lived just down the road.  I walked my beagle there.  It is also close enough to the high school that I could walk students over to sit and read  Spoon River Anthology or compose original poetry.  One spring my juniors were reading Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine.  With a little research we learned that the Brits celebrate Dandelion Day which sounded like a smashing idea to us as well!  When the exact day arrived, we drug all manner of breakfast food over one morning and had breakfast on a blanket.  Then we picked some dandelions and ate them dipped in batter and deep fried the next day!  Tasted like mushrooms.  The thought entered my mind today that perhaps I too ought to  buy a little plot up there--save my survivors the trouble--beat the rush. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


We have a plethora of beautiful girls in our second generation--meet Lorelai.  She looks determined with a sweetness chaser.  I can't wait to meet her.  I'll probably need a bib and utensils because I plan on eating her up!  She makes NINE grandkids--six pink, three blue.  Smashing fun!  I love her ballerina ostrich.  She sent me some birthday greetings and apologized for coming 4 days early of that.  Not to worry.  We'll share the same zodiac sign and call it good.  I find myself peering deep into this picture--trying to perceive her soul, you know.  She may be a caboose in that family.  I'm wondering who was at her send-off celebration...Will she be the doll toting sidekick her sister Rosie really needs?  I hope her arms are skinny enough for the sweater I'm knitting!  Dog lover or cat affecianado?  Tummy or back sleeper?  Mommy's girl or Daddy's?  Are there mud puddles in her future?  Bubble baths?  She seems completely likeable to me.  Welcome to the circus, Lorelai.   Grab a hand, hold on, enjoy the cotton candy, and watch out for the tigers...Love, Grammy

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley